Saturday, June 30, 2012

Historic health care mandate prevails - RomneyCare goes national

Healthcare for all, accountability with no "free riding"-- once upon a time, this was a good Republican idea.  Don't you just love politics?  Pacificans will definitely benefit.
President applauds the Supreme Court decision

"The Supreme Court on June 28, 2012, upheld the individual health-insurance mandate that is at the heart of President Obama’s landmark health-care law, saying the mandate is permissible under Congress’s taxing authority. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on Thursday joined the Supreme Court’s liberals to save the heart of President Obama’s landmark health-care law, agreeing that the requirement for nearly all Americans to secure insurance is permissible under Congress’s taxing authority. The court’s 5 to 4 ruling was a stunning legal conclusion to a battle that has consumed American politics for two years. Roberts’s compromise offered a dramatic victory for Obama and Democrats’ decades-long effort to enact a health-care law and a bitter defeat for Republicans and tea party activists, who had uniformly opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act."  The Washington Post/Robert Barnes, 6/28/12."Health-Care Reform and the Supreme Court."   Read Article.

Really, how about giving it a rest RomneyCare?
"The problem for Romney is that there are no fundamental differences between the two laws. Both programs create exchanges where private insurers compete. Both require individuals to purchase insurance. And both subsidize those who can’t afford it. It’s a relatively new way of extending coverage. Massachusetts was the first place it was adopted, and the Affordable Care Act was the second. The two laws are, in the words of Jonathan Gruber, who helped design both the Romney and Obama plans, “the same fu*#ing bill.” To find any differences between the two, you must look to the margins."  The Daily Beast/Josh Dzieza, 3/6/12.  "Romneycare and Obamacare differ only in inconsequential ways." Read Article.

Related - John "Hussein" Roberts from Andy Borowitz. "Controversy swirled around John Roberts today as billionaire Donald Trump claimed that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court had a fraudulent birth certificate. Mr. Trump said that these are the findings of a team of personal investigators he retained just after ten o’clock yesterday morning. According to these investigators, Justice Roberts, who claims to have grown up in Indiana, was actually born in a mud hut in a tiny rural village in Kenya." The Borowitz Report,  "Trump says John Roberts' Birth Certificate is Fake. Traces Chief Justice's Birth to Village in Kenya."   Read more. 

Reference -, "Affordable Health Care Act/ key features."

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Finally Congress got something important done

Maybe Pacifica and Moss Beach will get their Highway 1 traffic improvement monies after all.  Half Moon Bay missed the time corridor.  

Associated Press/Alan Fram, 5/29/12.  "Congress passes student loans, highway jobs bill."

Beep beep, no one can fix the fog, but
congress can fix Pacifica's 1.3 mile highway.
WASHINGTON (AP) — "Congress emphatically approved legislation Friday preserving jobs on transportation projects from coast to coast and avoiding interest rate increases on new loans to millions of college students, giving lawmakers campaign-season bragging rights on what may be their biggest economic achievement before the November elections.

The bill sent for President Barack Obama's signature enables just over $100 billion to be spent on highway, mass transit and other transportation programs over the next two years, projects that would have expired Saturday without congressional action. It also ends a bare-knuckle political battle over student loans that raged since spring, a proxy fight over which party was best helping voters muddle through the economic downturn.

Obama signed a one-week temporary measure Friday evening, permitting the highway and loan programs to continue until the full legislation reaches his desk."    Associated Press.

Related -  Also read the scary 10/21/11 CA Coastal Commission letter presented by Todd Bray in his 6/30/12 Fix Pacifica article.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

California Coastal Commission staff comment letter to Caltrans regarding the widening DEIR

This is the CCC staff comment letter to Caltrans regarding the widening DEIR. I highly recommend reading the 2nd paragraph first page.

Submitted by Todd Bray

Friday, June 29, 2012

More fall out from the Vernon CA money scandal

Eric T. Fresch, Esq. former Vernon city administrator and city contract attorney involved in ripping-off Vernon, CA is dead 6/28/12, age 58.  
San Francisco Chronicle/Associated Press, 6/29/12.  "Former head of troubled California city found dead."

Beautiful downtown Vernon, CA
VERNON, Calif. (AP) -- The body of a former administrator of the embattled city of Vernon was found in the water off a San Francisco Bay area island on the same day the California auditor's office issued a report criticizing the way he and others managed the tiny, scandal-plagued industrial town.
Industrial Park

The body of Eric T. Fresch was discovered Thursday floating off Angel Island, said Park Superintendent Amy Brees. She said his bicycle was found nearby.

....  Auditors noted that Fresch's law firm was given a contract for legal services in 2010 that contained no spending limit, and that between 2005 and 2011 his firm was paid more than $5 million. 

Vernon paid Fresch $1.65 million in 2008, according to documents released by then-Attorney General Jerry Brown in 2010, when Brown announced an investigation into exorbitant salaries paid to public officials of small Southern California cities.  California Auditor Elaine Howle told the Los Angeles Times her office tried to interview Fresch as it prepared the audit, but he repeatedly ducked calls and the efforts of subpoena servers.

....  About 50,000 people work in Vernon, a 5.2-square-mile warren of warehouses and factories in the shadow of Los Angeles, but only about 100 actually live there.

Among other things, the report said, Vernon lacks sufficient controls on its contracting for services.Read Article.

Related  -  City of Vernon, CA. "Statement on the passing of former Vernon City Administrator", 6/29/12. "The City of Vernon sends its heartfelt condolences to the family of former Vernon City Administrator Eric T. Fresch in their time of great personal loss due to his unfortunate passing.  Eric T. Fresch, Esq. previously served as Vernon city administrator and city attorney."

Note:  Photographs (upper left and lower right) are by Patrick A. Timlin, with permission. Copyright 2006 by Patrick A. Timlin.

Submitted by Jim Alex

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Midcoast Community Council seeks highway 1 improvement

Biased in favor of public traffic safety,  the Midcoast Community Council (MCC), with the assistance of their secretary Lisa Ketcham, filed a grant application request to San Mateo County for highway 1 road improvement.    
Here's aiming at you

Moss Beach, CA: Harbor Seal @ Fitzgerald Marien Reserve
Save the people!
"Half Moon Bay Reveiw/Sara Hayden, 6/28/12. "MCC and Caltrans collaborate to increase pedestrian visibility, increased illumination planned at one intersection."

"With accidents racking up at dawn and twilight along Highway 1, members of the Moss Beach community have been pushing for greater safety measures.  ....  To cite a few cases, a vehicle struck and severely injured a 12-year-old boy on a bicycle in 2009. A passing vehicle killed a pedestrian in December 2011. A January accident involved a motorcyclist and a pedestrian. The most recent incident sent a high school student to the hospital, suffering from
multiple fractures.

Moss Beach, CA: scenic pathway
Drive to work on this road?
Not everyone is on board, however. Some residents wish to preserve the rural character of the community and don’t want the light pollution, Ketcham said.

On Tuesday, the MCC submited a grant application to the county for $5 million. The grant would help cover the cost of adding left-turn lanes, medians and safe crossings, as identified in the Highway 1 Safety and Mobility Study."   Read Article. 

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Half Moon Bay Interim Planning Director rolled by Eco-NIMBYS

Trails yes,  road improvements no
Half Moon Bay Review/Mark Noack, 6/28/12.  "Highway 1 project delayed amid concerns, public urges longer review of road plan."

....  "The proposal would install new traffic signals at Poplar Street, Roosevelt Boulevard and Terrace Avenue — the last spot being a lightning rod of land-use politics for local residents. Those same sections would also be widened to four traffic lanes with other areas of the highway expanded to include a center turn lane. The trail extensions would add new swaths to the Naomi Patridge Trail, pushing it north to Mirada Road and, on the southern end, to Miramontes Point Road. 

....  Acquiescing to public demand, Interim Planning Director Pat Webb postponed making a decision herself on the plan, and she agreed to instead bring it next month to the Planning Commission.

Turkey vultures yes, roads no
....  The notion that the Highway 1 project was racing through approval is just not accurate, city officials say. In their report, a city planner pointed out the improvements were part of an 8-year-old traffic study already approved by the City Council and Planning Commission.  ...

Webb said the city could lose out on this year’s round of transportation funding now that the project is being delayed."

....  "But she admitted that the postponement would give her more time to research the background of the project.  Webb said she would consider one suggestion from the audience — to split the bike trail extension and the highway upgrades into two separate projects. That could make individual aspects of the project more palatable to the public, she said. “It’s clear there’s a whole lot more support for the bike trails than for the traffic lanes or the signals,” she said. “It sounded like it would be easier for the public to digest if they were split.”  Read Article.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Thursday, June 28, 2012

North Las Vegas declares a fiscal emergency

Fox News/Associated Press, 6/22/12/  "Financially-strapped Nevada city declared disaster"

Warm weather most of the year, especially in summer
North Las Vegas population roughly doubled from 2000 to 2010 (city size 223,394).  The economy declined, along with property values-- while planned city infrastructure spending increased.   ....  "the city doubled its staff, built a new park each year and, in 2009, started construction on a sparkling $130 million City Hall."  2011-13, two year City employee cutback 279, roughly 28%."  

....  "No matter that the statute, which allows municipalities to suspend union contracts and avoid paying scheduled salary increases, doesn't actually include fiscal emergencies among the list of potential disasters.  There are many cities across the nation grappling with declining property values and growing expenses like North Las Vegas, but few, if any, have declared financial emergency.

....  Without the emergency declaration, the city claims it would have to lay off 217 public safety workers to afford the salary increases required under its police and fire union contracts. Libraries would close and recreation centers would no longer offer swimming and Spanish classes.

.... ".... residents have urged City Hall to keep its libraries and recreation centers and sacrifice public safety, which accounts for 66 percent of the city's budget. In all, the city expects to go from 1,000 public safety employees in 2011 to 721 in 2013. The City Council voted Wednesday night to turn its jail services over to the city of Las Vegas in a move expected to save $16 million annually."   Read Article.

Not the end of the world, just a sand trap
Related - article,  Las Vegas Sun/Brian Nordi, 6/28/12. "North Las Vegas mayor confident bold actions were needed."   And from Area Vibes Demographics.

Related -  The fiscal impact.  "Auditor-Controller: Marcia Salter. ... Resolution authorizing and directing the Treasurer of the County of Nevada to temporarily  transfer funds in the amount of $678,000 to the City of Nevada City to meet the obligations incurred for operation and maintenance of the City through April 26, 2012. The 2012/13 property tax remittance to the City for December 2012 and April 2013 allocations will be reduced by the Auditor-Controller in an amount equal to fifty percent of the authorized temporary borrow amount. Such repayment shall be with an interest charge at the Treasurer’s pooled interest rate plus 0.5% for an administrative charge."  Is it 2012 in Navada County Yet" conservative  Blog.

Submitted by Jim Alex

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Stockton bankruptscy - how city employees will be affected

The Sacramento Bee/Associated Press/Gosia Wozniacka, 6/27/12.  "Stockton bankruptcy is hard hit for city retirees."   
Fun while it lasted

"When Stockton becomes the largest U.S. city ever to file for bankruptcy, it will strike a hard blow to residents, especially city employees and retirees whose health benefits and pensions helped drive the city toward insolvency.

....  "What's going on in Stockton is endemic to what's going on all over the state and the country," said Michael Sweet, a San Francisco bankruptcy attorney at Fox Rothschild LLP. "Local governments are hurting and strained under the current pension and compensation systems. These systems are not appropriate for the type of economy this country has evolved into."
Pension, no medical

....  "When times were good, it was easier to expand benefits and pensions and not pay as much attention to the unfunded liabilities that were growing," said David Dubrow, a bankruptcy lawyer at Arent Fox LLP in New York City. "Now that times are not good and not good for prolonged periods, those costs are becoming severe."

Some states have passed legislation related to changing pensions and retirement benefits for new employees, Dubrow said. But it's difficult to change the rules for existing employees and even more complicated for retirees, because state constitutions and other legal issues may prevent such restructuring. 

....  In Stockton, pensions will not be affected by a bankruptcy filing, but health benefits for employees and retirees will."    Read Article.

Note:  The "Pop" link above is a 2:38 minute video:  "A fox a chicken and a lot of champagne." 

Submitted by Jim Alex 

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pacifica highway 1 widening moves forward after 30 years

OMG they were going to widen Highway 1 last century
... If there's any way to delay need the 1.3 mile highway widening, I'm sure the Eco-NIMBYS will find it.  Really, the rest of us are tired of the nothing for Pacifica excuses and actions which adversely affect our city here, now, and in this century.  When it comes to  city economic and infrastructure improvement, Councilmember Digre is a continuing drag on the discussion and progress. 

Pacifica Tribune/Jane Northrop, 6/26/12. "City council agrees to seek funding, but refuses to lock in design for highway widening except for discussion purposes."

"City Council approved Monday conceptually moving forward on the proposed highway widening between Fassler and Westport. Council members passed a resolution to get in the queue to seek funding from Measure A through the San Mateo County Transportation Authority.

The vote was 4-1 with Councilmember Sue Digre against it. "I'm concerned about the sea level rising. With the widening of the highway, it will put us more at risk," she said." 

Good fishing at Pacifica Pier
"The city chooses the landscaped alternative to participate in the discussion with the project development team, but reserves final decision until after the final environmental impact report is issued," Steve Rhodes, the city manager, read."    Read Article.

Reference - City Council meeting 6/25/12 Agenda, Consideration item #9. "Selection of Preferred Project Alternatives and Nomination of Highway 1, Westport Drive to Fassler Avenue Calera Parkway Project to the San Mateo County Transportation Authority (TA) Call for Projects for Measure A Highway Program.  No Budget Authority required.  (Proposed action:  identify the city's preferred alternative and authroize staff to nominate the Highway 1 Westport Drive to Fassler Avenue Calera Parkway Project to the San Mateo County Transportation Authority."  Full Summary Report, pages 44 - 51:  Narrow median alternative picture page 48, landscape median alternative page 51.  Read Agenda.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

City of Stockton bankruptcy is official

Sacramento Bee/Peter Hecht, 6/27/12. "Stockton council votes to go into bankruptcy protection."

Billboard in Stockton*
"Years after betting on a sustained housing boom to bankroll a waterfront redevelopment and dole out salary and benefit perks to city employees and retirees, Stockton cashed in its chips Tuesday in a plan that will lead it into bankruptcy.

The City Council voted to approve an austerity plan, including stopping bond payments and making deep cuts in retiree health care, as part of a plan to file Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

....  Only six years ago, Stockton had appeared to be a boomtown as median home prices shot up from $110,000 to $400,000."  Read Article.

Related  -  Seattle Times/Associated Press/Gosia Wozniaka, "Stockton official:  Mediation with creditors fails", 6/27/12. NPR, "City of Stockton's looming Bankruptcy:  Pictures tell the story, 6/27/12. * Picture from  KMC Pickle, a local Stockton city blog.

UpdateSan Francisco Chronicle/Kevin Fagan, 6/28/12, "Stockton bankruptcy filing makes history."
"The city of Stockton officially notched its reluctant spot in the history books Thursday when it became the biggest city in American history to file for bankruptcy.  

City officials filed Chapter 9 protection papers in federal bankruptcy court in Sacramento, capping three years of fruitless efforts to stem a torrent of red ink caused by the housing foreclosure crisis and millions of dollars in unpayable loans for civic improvement projects."

Submitted by Jim Alex 

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Stockton closer to bankruptcy filing

San Francisco Chronicle/Kevin Fagan, 6/25/12.  "Stockton:  Council expected to OK bankruptcy filing."
Stockton deep water channel from Center Street

....  "Faced with a crippling $26 million deficit, the City Council is expected to vote Tuesday to become the largest U.S. municipality ever to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection - further stigmatizing a city already reeling from years from skyrocketing unemployment, foreclosures and rising murder rates.

Under the filing, creditors from banks to bond funds would have to wrangle in federal court for how many pennies per dollar they would get for the hundreds of millions the city borrowed to build ambitious projects during the mid-2000s. Health benefits to retired city employees would be cut, and everyday costs such as parking tickets would go up.

Where the ripples spread from there is anybody's guess."    Read Article.

Reference -  City of Stockton.  General information about Stockton, Wikipedia.

Related article -  Kingcade/Garcia attorneys, 3/27/12, reprint from the Los Angeles Times, 3/14/12.

Submitted by Jim Alex

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Monday, June 25, 2012

Pacifica City Council meetings are now available on demand

I was informed by one of the Pacifica Community Television folks that Pacifica City Council meetings (and other PCT shows) are now archived and available on demand via the web. If I remember right, they are available starting the Thursday after the meeting.

Go to the PCT website, click on Program Schedule/VOD, and select the show you'd like to watch.

Posted by Steve Sinai

Highway 1 improvement process moves forward

In regards to the Highway 1 matter in Council tonight, it went relatively well.

The vote was 4-1 in favor of pursuing funding for the Highway improvements, with only Sue voting no. I especially liked the way Pete opened up regarding his frustrations with the people who used to complain about how bad the highway traffic was, yet now were saying, "do nothing." 

Caltrans had also indicated that the city needed to specify which of three following options was preferred: 1) concrete median; 2) landscaped median; 3) discontinue the project. The favored option was the landscaped median, although Council wanted to make it clear that it was simply the preferred alternative for now, and that it wasn't a final decision. The wording of the motion was -

"Give direction to staff to participate in the project development team, but reserve the final discussion until after the Final Environmental Impact Review is issued."

The motion passed with 3 yes votes (Mary Ann, Len, Ginny), 1 no vote (Pete, who didn't want to specify a preference), and one abstention (Sue).

Posted by Steve Sinai

Reminder - City Council meeting tonight, Monday June 25, 2012

Attend in person, 2212 Beach Boulevard, 2nd floor.  Or, view on local channel 26, also live internet feed,  The meeting begins at 7pm, or shortly there following.  City Council updates on City website.   Agenda, 6/25/12, 53 pages.

Potential hot item:  Consideration, #9, San Mateo County Transportation Authority (TA) 5/25/12 call for projects, submit application due by 6/29/12:  Highway 1/Calera Parkway (Westport Drive to Fassler Avenue) widening project, (page 37 and 44-51). Submit application, and choice of 1) narrow median or 2) landscaped median (costs more).  Fix Pacifica article.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Sharp Park, SF Public Golf Covered in National Magazine and TV Features


 Check these stories out, and share them with your friends:
 1.  Golf Channel, Golf Central, "MacKenzie Course May be Forced to Close," Rich Lerner, June 18, 2012:
 2.  Golf, "The True Heart of San Francisco Golf," Bill Fields, June, 2012:
 3.  Golf, "Golf Helping Rough Neighborhood Near San Francisco's Olympic Club, June 11, 2012:
 4.  Golf World, "Reality Check," June 8, 2012: (Click to download a PDF)
 5.  Golfweek, "Sharp Park Puts Focus on Muni Golf," May 18, 2012:

 Thanks for your support! 

Save Sharp Park!

Donations are greatly appreciated. To donate, please visit our website: Donations Page

 We are on Twitter (@SFPublicGolf), Facebook and our website
Contact us at
Submitted by Richard Harris

Pacifica ice pick attacker gets nine years, DA says

Updated:   06/25/2012 05:58:38 AM PDT
A Pacifica man convicted of stabbing his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend in the head with an ice pick has been sentenced to more than nine years in prison, a prosecutor said. 

Arthur John Armstrong, 39, got eight years behind bars for the ice pick attack, which left the victim with permanent disabilities, and 16 months for a separate incident in which he opened fire while being pursued by a Pacifica police officer, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Judge Clifford Cretan handed down the sentence Thursday.

The stabbing happened Nov. 15, 2010, when Armstrong, who was with his new girlfriend, spotted an ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend near the Pacifica pier. The men exchanged stares and words before Armstrong allegedly tossed a lit firecracker at the victim. At that point the victim, whose name was not immediately available, confronted Armstrong and was stabbed.

Wagstaffe said the pick went through the victim's skull and into his brain, leaving him with permanent damage to his motor functions. Armstrong was arrested a short time later and denied responsibility for the stabbing.


Posted by Steve Sinai

A Georgia Town Takes the People’s Business Private

By   Published: June 23, 2012


IF your image of a city hall involves a venerable building, some Roman pillars and lots of public employees, the version offered by this Atlanta suburb of 94,000 residents is a bit of a shocker. 

The entire operation is housed in a generic, one-story industrial park, along with a restaurant and a gym. And though the place has a large staff, none are on the public payroll. O.K., seven are, including the city manager. But unless you chance into one of them, the people you meet here work for private companies through a variety of contracts.

Applying for a business license? Speak to a woman with Severn Trent, a multinational company based in Coventry, England. Want to build a new deck on your house? Chat with an employee of Collaborative Consulting, based in Burlington, Mass. Need a word with people who oversee trash collection? That would be the URS Corporation, based in San Francisco. 

Even the city’s court, which is in session on this May afternoon, next to the revenue division, is handled by a private company, the Jacobs Engineering Group of Pasadena, Calif. The company’s staff is in charge of all administrative work, though the judge, Lawrence Young, is essentially a legal temp, paid a flat rate of $100 an hour. 

“I think of it as being a baby judge,” says Mr. Young, who spends most of his time drafting trusts as a lawyer in a private practice, “because we don’t have to deal with the terrible things that you find in Superior Court.”

With public employee unions under attack in states like Wisconsin, and with cities across the country looking to trim budgets, behold a town built almost entirely on a series of public-private partnerships — a system that leaders around here refer to, simply, as “the model.”

Posted by Steve Sinai

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Free movies throughout San Mateo county during the summer

What has Pacifica done lately??

 San Mateo Daily Journal/Heather Murtaugh, 6/23/12.  "Family movie night"

Courthouse Square, Redwood City*
"It’s officially summer, which means longer days and warmer nights.

When the sun gets low in San Mateo County, it might mean it’s time to grab the popcorn. Free movies are available for families throughout the county both indoors and out. Check out more recent films like the most recent Muppets movie or introduce little ones to classics like “The Goonies” alongside those who also love a good flick. The best thing about outdoor movies is creating your own snack bag that can be shared outside.  

Movies have already started showing Thursday evenings in Redwood City on Courthouse Square. The 13-week weekly showing runs through Aug. 30. Each movie starts at sundown which starts closer to 8:45 p.m. now but as early as 8 p.m. later this summer."  Read Article. 

*Photograph by Kore Chan, San Mateo Daily Journal

Submitted by Jim Alex

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Sea level rise, time to sell?

"The West Coast will see an ocean several inches higher in coming decades, with most of California expected to get sea levels a half foot higher by 2030, according a report released Friday

 ....  Although the 6 inches expected for California by 2030 seem minor, the report estimated that sea levels there will be an average of 3 feet higher by 2100. About 72 percent of the state's coast is covered by sandy cliffs, and the rest include beaches, sand dunes, bays and estuaries.

Seaside cliffs will be cut back about 30 yards over the next 100 years, and sand dunes will be driven back even more, said Robert A. Dalrymple, a professor of civil engineering at Johns Hopkins University and chairman of the group that wrote the report. After about 50 years, coastal wetlands will eventually be overwhelmed without new sources of sand or room to move inland. "San Francisco Chronicle/Associated Press/Environment/Jeff Barnard, 6/22/12."  Read Article, includes two Pacifica storm damage pictures, 1/2010.
Seas could rise higher along the California coastline this century than in other places in the world, increasing the risk of flooding and storm damage, dune erosion and wetland destruction, the U.S. National Research Council reported Friday.  Rising sea levels have long been seen as a consequence of climate change, because as the world warms, glaciers melt and contribute water to the Earth's oceans. At the same time, ocean waters tend to expand as they heat, pushing sea levels higher.
The report looked at how much seas could rise by 2100 along the U.S. West Coast, and found that the water off California's coast from the Mexican border to Cape Mendocino could rise between 16.5 inches and 66 inches by century's end, compared to what they were in 2000. San Francisco Examiner from Reuters/Deborah Zabarenko, 6/22/12, "Rising sea levels to hit California hard by 2100.  Read Article.

Beyond any real estate permanently inundated, such an increase would bring some $100 billion worth of facilities that currently are high and dry into a new 100-year flood plain, according to previous studies that assumed a comparable increase in sea levels. Those facilities include power plants, airports and seaports, and other big-ticket pieces of infrastructure." The Christian Science Monitor/Pete Spotts/Business Insider, "New sea level estimates will make you scared to live in California."  Read Article.

Note:  "The study was commissioned by various state agencies of the three states, as well as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Geological Survey." (from Reuters above).  The states are Washington, Oregon and California. 

Related  - Cal Adapt threatened areas map and other information, (California's scientific community, developed by UC Berkeley Geospatial Innovation Facility).

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Friday, June 22, 2012

Shaggy criminal story, age 47 free lodging going forward

Slow news day story... but, still think those 2nd amendment rights don't need more scrutiny? 

The San Mateo Daily Journal/Bay City News Service.  "Former firefighter arrested after cache of weapons found."  
At least 2 strikes, why?

San Mateo County sheriff’s deputies arrested a Half Moon Bay man after uncovering a cache of 16 firearms and 10,000 rounds of live ammunition in a storage unit in Pacifica, according to the District Attorney’s Office. ....   Two of the weapons were assault rifles.

John Fotinos, 47, who was arrested Tuesday, was prohibited from possessing both ammunition and firearms because of a 2007 felony conviction for grand theft, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. .... In that case, Fotinos — a former firefighter with the Newark Fire Department — told a coworker he would sell a truck on his behalf, Wagstaffe said.

Fotinos has been charged with 16 counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and two counts of being in possession of an assault rifle.  Read article.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Half Moon Bay has a new tax idea for the Fall election

The one-cent sales tax idea didn't work, so the city is asking for a half-cent.  Sound familiar?
Building our City sales tax 1/2 cent at a time

San Mateo Daily Journal/Bill Silverfarb, 6/21/12.  "City puts half-cent sales tax on ballot."  

"Half Moon Bay will once again ask its residents to approve a sales tax hike this November after voters rejected a similar measure in 2010.

This time, though, the City Council is only putting a half-cent sales tax increase on the ballot while in 2010 it put a 1-cent sales tax increase, Measure K, on the ballot.

....  While the city’s operating budget is just about balanced, it has virtually no funds for capital improvements.  .....  The half-cent sales tax hike, if approved, will bring in about $870,000 annually."  Read Article.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

San Mateo County passes a 2012-13 budget, but...

Waiting to hear from the State about money... 
Federal --> STATE --> Counties --> Cities

Palo Alto Daily News/Bonnie Eslinger, 6/21/12. "San Mateo County supervisors approve $1,8 billion budget." 

"The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors on Thursday tentatively approved a $1.8 billion budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

....  The board is scheduled to take a final vote on the budget Sept. 25, after getting updated projections from the state and federal governments and making related adjustments.Read Article.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

CA Legislature agrees upon the 2012-13 budget

The California 7/1/12 fiscal year budget is agreed upon, but will be reviewed following results of the Fall election state tax vote.  Sound familiar? 

Your tax vote will determine what's next
San Francisco Chronicle/Wyatt Buchanan, Marisa Lagos, 6/21/12.  "State leaders reach deal on remaining budget bills."

"Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic leaders in the Legislature have agreed to the final details of a state budget that will take effect July 1, striking a deal that includes controversial provisions such as eliminating a health insurance program for children and limiting the amount of time poor families can stay on cash assistance grants. 
"No tax" vote alternative

Lawmakers passed the main budget bill last week, but had not yet agreed with the governor on some major details, including cuts to welfare, college assistance grants, and child care assistance. Now that those issues are resolved, they said they will vote on the final budget bills Tuesday." 

....  Lawmakers also agreed to eliminate the state's Healthy Families Program, which provides health insurance for children, and move 880,000 poor youngsters into Medi-Cal. They backed off a plan to shift $250 million in property tax money from counties and redirect it to general state services."  

....."If voters reject the taxes, midyear cuts would automatically kick in, with most affecting K-12 and higher education."   Read Article, 2 pages. 

Related - Silicon Valley Mercury News, 6/21/12 article. "... the whole deal hinges on November when Brown's tax proposal goes before voters. He's asking for a temporary boost in income taxes for the wealthy and a quarter-cent hike in the state sales tax, which would provide $5.9 billion in the first year. Nearly $6 billion in new budget cuts -- $5.5 billion to schools, $500 million to universities -- would be automatically triggered if the measure fails."

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Thursday, June 21, 2012

CA high speed rail project won't catch a break from environmental lawsuits

Silicon Valley Mercury News/Mike Rosenberg, 6/20/12.  "Gov. Jerry Brown scraps idea to soften environmental scrutiny on high-speed rail."

Remember when everyone loved a train?
"The Brown administration on Wednesday abandoned its plan to ease environmental scrutiny of the $69 billion bullet train, backing off quickly after strong opposition from environmentalists threatened the project altogether.

The proposal was designed to prevent opponents from halting high-speed rail construction in court on environmental grounds. It was tied to a key vote in the Legislature in coming weeks on whether to build the first $6 billion leg of tracks in the Central Valley.

But powerful environmental groups -- and key bullet train supporters -- like the Sierra Club and National Resources Defense Council were outraged at what they considered an attempt to undermine the state's landmark environmental law. They spent the last three weeks urging lawmakers to scrap the plan, saying it would set a dangerous precedent."  Read Article.  

Related  - Streets Blog Network, 1/5/12, article.  .Independent Voter Network, 5/10/11 article and picture, "The vision of high speed rail (HSR) is to have trains traveling between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2 hours and 40 minutes, and from San Jose to San Francisco in 30 minutes. Voters authorized this in 2008 when Prop 1A passed. However, it only authorizes $9.5 billion in bonds to finance HSR, and that’s not nearly enough. The final cost might be $40 billion or more. California hopes to get several billion more from the federal government, which will help, but won’t end the funding shortfall."

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Fall election, consider appointing San Mateo County Controller

Elected Controller Tom Huening retired mid-term 3/31/12.  San Mateo County Board of Supervisors appointed Assistant Controller Bob Adler to fill the position rather than call for a special election. 

Retired Controller Tom Huening
San Mateo Daily Journal/Michelle Durand, 6/20/12. "Voters in control of controller"

"County voters will decide this fall if the currently elected controller position should instead be converted into a two-term appointment, a decision reached after county supervisors slightly quibbled over the job’s preferred qualifications.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed yesterday to place on the Nov. 6 ballot a charter change amendment that, if passed by a two-thirds majority, will change the controller position to an appointed position. The controller is essentially the county’s top fiscal officer and, according to Supervisor Don Horsley, more an administrative than policy-making position.

If passed, the measure will add San Mateo County to nine of 58 other counties with appointed controllers. Of those, six have consolidated departments of finance including the controller, treasurer and tax collector and nearly all have switched fairly recently, said County Counsel John Beiers."   Read Article.

Related - Palo Alto Daily News, 6/16/12,. Palo Alto Daily News,  4/25/12,

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Earth in transition, welcome to global warming

Pacifica Tribune, Letters to the Editor, 6/20/12.  "Global warming" by John Blanchard

"Editor:  A basic layman's understanding of Global Warming science can begin with the concept of the 'greenhouse effect'. Just as a greenhouse collects and traps warmth from sunlight that transmits through its panes certain gases in the earth's atmosphere trap a portion of heat that normally would be reflected from the earth back to space.

This phenomenon of absorbing and reflecting heat can also be illustrated by a brick wall in sunlight. The brick absorbs the heat, warming it, but the heat can also be felt standing in front of the wall as it radiates out. This is infrared radiation. Virtually all solid objects have the ability to radiate heat in this way.

In the natural world the Earth is in balance with sunlight received and heat reflected as infrared radiation.

Representing the glass panes of the greenhouse, the earth's atmosphere is made up of multiple layers of gases that surround the earth and are held in place by gravity. Largely these gases permit heat from the earth to be radiated back out to space thus cooling the planet. But some gases are referred to as greenhouse gases because they absorb radiated heat and arrest its escape to outer space just as the panes of the greenhouse trap heat and create warmth.

Just a little smog
Among these greenhouse gases is Carbon Dioxide (CO2). While CO2 only makes up about a quarter of the effect of all greenhouse gases that is still significant and its measurable increase in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution is directly related to human extraction and burning of fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, coal or wood.

This fact is undisputed amongst the greater world's scientific community. The actual effects of global warming on all of us and the insidious denial of these inconvenient truths will have to be for another post."

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

More space and protection for Western Snowy Plovers on Federal Land

What's for lunch?

San Francisco Chronicle/Peter Fimrite, 6/19/12.  "Habitat set aside for Western Snowy plover doubles."

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday designated 38 square miles along the West Coast as critical habitat for a federally listed beach and mud-loving bird called the Pacific Coast western snowy plover.  The designation more than doubles the amount of habitat set aside for the threatened pocket-size birds in California, Oregon and Washington. 

It means proposed developments on federal land could come under more scrutiny. It is not clear how the designation would affect the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which did not add new critical habitat, but federal land managers in general would have to consult with the fish and wildlife service before anything could be done that might impact plover habitat."  The area most affected in our region are 618 acres of Napa and Sonoma marshes.  Read Article.

RelatedPacifica Shorebird Alliance.   Monterey Bay Acquarium article, source of photo.

Posted by Kathy Meeh